Coeur d’Alene Waters

CDW_frontCOEUR D’ALENE, IDAHO, is where people go to hide. 


Corrupt politicians. 

Mining men with buried secrets.

In 1972, ninety-one men were killed in a mining ”accident” sparked by a fire lit nearly a mile underground: the mystery was never solved. After the rest escaped, only three miners survived underground.

More than twenty years later, Matt Worthson is a sheriff’s lieutenant and the disgraced son of mining hero and Sunshine Mine survivor Stanley Worthson. Matt expects to finish out his years on the force in quiet ignominy. But when the gruesomely dismembered body of a police chaplain is found at the swanky Coeur d’Alene Resort, Matt is tapped to find the murderer.

As Matt investigates the murder of his friend, he finds himself digging deep into the labyrinth of lies that seeps beneath the Coeur d’Alene region, including the Sunshine Mine disaster, and the truth behind his own broken family.


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BookList Review

Posted by on May 22, 2014 in amwriting, book reviews, books, reading, sinfulfolk, writing | 0 comments

Good news on the book front… novel SINFUL FOLK reviewed in 100-year-old BOOKLIST — the magazine the New York Times calls “an acquisitions bible for public and school librarians nationwide.” From Booklist   *Starred Review*   “In December of 1377, five children are burned in a suspicious house fire. Awash in paranoia and prejudice, the fathers suspect it is the work of Jews and set out to seek justice from the king, loading the charred bodies of their boys onto a cart. Unbeknownst to them, among them is a woman, Mear, who has been hiding out in the town for the past 10 years posing as a mute man. It is a treacherous journey, for their rations are spare and the weather is brutal. And always, they are haunted by the question, Why were their boys in Benedict the weaver’s house, and who would do this to them? Mear, ever resourceful, not only watches for clues to unravel the mystery but also provides invaluable aid in finding their way, for she has traveled this way before and is the only literate one among them. The reason for her false identity is slowly revealed as the villagers are chased by bandits and must overcome numerous obstacles, hunger and fear among them. Brilliantly conceived and beautifully executed, Hayes’ novel is woven through with a deep knowledge of medieval history, all conveyed in mesmerizing prose. At the center of the novel is Mear, a brave and heartbreaking character whose story of triumph over adversity is a joy to read.”   — BookList Reviewer Joanne Wilkinson Please like &...

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Telling a Story

Posted by on May 16, 2014 in amwriting, reading, writing | 0 comments

Written as a participant in the Rainier Writing Workshop, 2014  What does it mean to tell a story? When I think of “telling a story,” I am thinking specifically of the act of verbal storytelling – perhaps around a fire with an audience of people who can leave at any moment. In this situation of verbal storytelling, it’s important to keep your listeners in anticipation of what might come next. It is also helpful to inform them about the world of your story. And to tell them about the kind of story you are telling, and to fulfill that kind of explanation. Digressions that explain the storyteller’s apprehension of what is to come are most welcome, as such pieces of the “story” build towards satisfying narrative and powerful insights into the characters. On the other hand, self-indulgent words or metaphorical flourishes that detract from the flow of the narrative lose the audience that is collected in the light of the storyteller’s firelit circle. If you are sitting with a bunch of 11 year old girls by a bonfire, and you begin by saying “I’m going to tell you a scary story,” you darn well better fulfill that expectation. Also, it’s possible to stop your story part way through, and provide some narrative explanation for what is happening to your character (first person or third person). For example, one might pause the forward momentum to observe that “he was really scared now, scared in a way that cuts right down to your bones. You ever felt that way? I know I have, and my blood turns to ice.” Furthermore, you can even digress entirely from the story, as long as you provide an explanation or connection back to the story at hand – for example, I might pause my plot in verbal storytelling, and describe the street of the “scary story” at some length, until I am sure that it is fixed in the reader’s mind. I’m thinking about this act of verbal storytelling, and how natural it is to “control” our reader’s expectations and inform them about what is happening in your story because I have been reading Donna Tartt’s lovely and rapidly moving literature-as-suspense-novel book The Secret History, in which she describes an insular world of private college upper-classmen who end up committing dastardly deeds (murder of a local farmer, followed by a cover-up murder of one of their own). I began to think about digressions, and how often she undertakes a digression from the “main story plot” in order to tell the reader something else. I started re-reading Tartt because I grew very bored with two recent novels I’ve read. One was a winner of several literary prizes – Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue – and the other was Tana French’s Broken Harbor, a police procedural that died on the vine. I started thinking then about why I was immediately captured by Tartt, and why I was disappointed in these two novels. I thought of Tartt for two reasons. First, of course, was the fact that her new novel The Goldfinch recently won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The other is that I have had this quote from Donna Tartt above my writing desk for many years now: “The first duty of the novelist is to entertain. It...

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Writing “realistic” magic — a post on Tim Powers & John Bellairs

Posted by on Apr 23, 2014 in books, reading, writing | 0 comments

LAST CALL and HOUSE WITH THE CLOCK IN ITS WALLS Tim Powers and John Bellairs In my spies+sorcery novel Wilderness of Mirrors, I’m trying to write a grounded fantasy that builds on known facts about the Cold War, the War on Terror, 9/11 and the WTC. I am attempting to construct a fantasy that feels as intricate and realistic as the spy novels of John Le Carré. I think I can write a pretty good spy plot, with gun battles, secrets passed in the dark, cryptographic codes to be broken, etc.  The tricky part of the novel for me is writing the “fantasy” part, as to this point in my writerly life, I’ve written “straight” contemporary or historical fiction. I also have no desire to craft a world utterly divorced from our reality – a la J.K. Rowling, Tolkien or George R.R. Martin. Instead, I’d like to take the curtain that lies over some 9/11 related events, and simply lift it a little bit, to reveal the edge of “sorcery” behind the scenes. I want any “fantastic” elements to feel as if they are genuine to our reality, and could exist if only someone looked closely enough. So I am looking for models of how to do this effectively. One model can be found in Tim Powers’s Last Call, a book I re-read and marked up in detail this month, specifically because I was in search of his technique of how he did magic+history in a believable way. Powers is the winner of the World Fantasy Award, and one reason that his books stand out from the general glut of fantastic fiction is that he does deep research into history, language and historical style. He also occasionally includes actual historical figures in his fantasy, but carefully written in such a way that they appear quite realistic and grounded in the period. For example, one of his historical fantasy masterworks is The Stress of Her Regard, in which Mary Shelley, Lord Byron and other poetic notables of the period are primary characters. The novel Last Call is only peripherally about the history of the gangster Bugsy Siegel and the founding of Las Vegas. Instead, it is mostly about a seemingly vagabond poker player who finds his lost step-father and has to undertake a bizarre quest back to Las Vegas, where he was abandoned as a child. En route to Las Vegas, Scott (the vagabond), a friend, and Ozzie (the step-father) are pursued by persons unknown. They find a way to evade them, and this is where the magic enters in for the first time in the book. This is the scene I was interested in, because I found the scene very believable, but it violates every natural law I know about. I didn’t have any suspension of disbelief, because my disbelief was accounted for in the scene. Here’s the scene in a nutshell: Ozzie without much notice stops the car and asks Scott and his friend glue plastic deer whistles all over their vehicle, and put playing cards on every other surface, including the wheels. Then they have to prick their fingers and put blood spots on flags and stick the spotted flags out the window. Ozzie doesn’t even tell them what it is for, or why they are doing...

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Withholding and Hinting at the “True” Story — a Post on Toni Morrison’s Beloved

Posted by on Apr 13, 2014 in amwriting, reading, writing | 0 comments

  (written as a participant in the Rainier Writing Workshop)     Toni Morrison’s Beloved              I’ve been pondering writing a new novel that illuminates a horrific period in my family’s heritage. As I re-read Toni Morrison’s Beloved this month, it became clear to me that her techniques of emotional withholding and surrealistic storytelling would be quite useful in telling the story that I’m tentatively calling A Mercy Upon Us. The verifiable family history I would use in my novel is the story of my grandfather’s parents. They were two young immigrants from Holland, with four children in tow, and one in the oven. They brought with them their elderly grandmother, to help with the children and the new baby about to be born. However, the only English speaker was the father. Shortly after arriving in this New World, the father contracted tuberculosis and died. The mother had just given birth, and alone, alienated, and bereft in this strange land, she sank into post-partum depression, and shortly thereafter committed suicide. The oldest child, Sue, assisted the elderly grandmother in adopting out the other children to families who gave them new names and new histories. Twenty-five years later, Sue went back and found each of the children, and told them who they really were, and where they came from. She gave them their true story – which was both a curse and a blessing. My grandfather may have never recovered from the knowledge that he was not who he had thought he had been, and seemed to carry it as a dark weight his whole life. Although this story has not a hint of magic about it (except perhaps the magic of memory), I found in Toni Morrison’s work a number of techniques that may help me to understand how to think through this book from the perspective of my narrator Sue. First, one technique I find quite useful is the way that Morrison describes events and persons through a lens that is unusual and lends a patina of strangeness to a scene, hinting just barely to her readers that all is not as it first appears. I could use this technique to give alternate versions of what happens, in a Rashomon type of multi-valent storytelling. For now, though, I think I’m going to just focus on Sue’s perspective, and let the story come out naturally as she tells it to the siblings she finds in her long quest to tell them the truth. In Morrison’s novel, the dead ghost of a child re-emerges into the lives of the main characters as a grown fully fleshed woman who has “willed” her way back into existence. At first, they do not know who she is, or what she represents in their lives. Morrison mirrors the characters’ lack of context for “Beloved” by providing an the initial introduction of Beloved as a character through poetic language that paints the situation as strange and imaginatively unreal. No one reacts to the scene, but the description is strange and compelling: A fully dressed woman walked out of the water. She barely gained the dry bank of the stream before she sat down and leaned against a mulberry tree. All day and all night she sat there, her head resting...

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Nikki McClure and Sinful Folk

Posted by on Apr 2, 2014 in books, geekdad, reading, sinfulfolk, writing | 0 comments

New York Times best-selling illustrator and author Nikki McClure and I know each other through our children’s school and our mutual interest in locally sourced art and supporting local artists. Nikki’s son and my children both attended the Lincoln Options Elementary School, and we are both very involved in the local arts community in the South Sound area in the Pacific Northwest. We first met at a Solstice Celebration that featured local children in an impromptu theatrical celebration of the season.   Nikki created the cover of Sinful Folk as one of her signature papercut pieces, but went in a new direction for the internal illustrations, which were created with charcoal. After reading the book in 2012, Nikki created her own graphical interpretation of SINFUL FOLK, which was accepted as the cover in late 2012.   I love the way that Nikki used papercuts and charcoal as the medium for illustration, as both are art forms that were used in the Middle Ages, and both styles of art were well known in the medieval era.     A literary update from Readers can find my books at these bookstores: To read more of my writing, you can visit Get literary updates by subscribing to my quarterly newsletter:  Please like &...

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Sinful Folk – Interview on BookNote

Posted by on Apr 2, 2014 in book reviews, books, reading, sinfulfolk | 0 comments

Video interview on BookNote (w/ Riana Nelson)   SINFUL FOLK by Ned Hayes, illustrations by Nikki McClure  Please like &...

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Happy Literary Birthday, John Fowles (and Ned Hayes) !

Posted by on Mar 31, 2014 in books, reading, writing | 0 comments

Literary Birthday – 31 March Happy Birthday, John Fowles, born 31 March 1926, died 5 November 2005 Also, my birthday!  ( /    (Post Via amandaonwriting)     Top 12 John Fowles Quotes   1) There are only two races on this planet – the intelligent and the stupid.   2) There comes a time in each life like a point of fulcrum. At that time you must accept yourself. It is not any more what you will become. It is what you are and always will be.   3) The most important questions in life can never be answered by anyone except oneself.   4) We all write poems; it is simply that poets are the ones who write in words.   5) You may think novelists always have fixed plans to which they work, so that the future predicted by Chapter One is always inexorably the actuality of Chapter Thirteen. But novelists write for countless different reasons: for money, for fame, for reviewers, for parents, for friends, for loved ones; for vanity, for pride, for curiosity, for amusement: as skilled furniture makers enjoy making furniture, as drunkards like drinking, as judges like judging, as Sicilians like emptying a shotgun into an enemy’s back. I could fill a book with reasons, and they would all be true, though not true of all. Only one same reason is shared by all of us: we wish to create worlds as real as, but other than the world that is. Or was. This is why we cannot plan. We know a world is an organism, not a machine.   6) There are many reasons why novelists write, but they all have one thing in common – a need to create an alternative world.   7) That was the tragedy. Not that one man had the courage to be evil. But that millions had not the courage to be good.   8) Wealth is a monster. It takes a month to learn to control it financially. And many years to learn to control it psychologically.   9) I think all the arts draw on a nostalgia or longing for a better world—at root a better metaphysical condition—than the one that is. Self-destructive, I don’t know, but certainly we are all victims of some form of manic depression. That is the price of being what we are. I would never choose—even if I could!—to be a more “normal” human being; I would never choose something without that emotional cost, severe though it can become.   10) Writing novels is a time-consuming, psyche-consuming business. I mean I don’t think a good teacher actually would be likely to write good novels.   11) What interests me about novelists as a species is the obsessiveness of the activity, the fact that novelists have to go on writing. I think that probably must come from a sense of the irrecoverable. In every novelist’s life there is some more acute sense of loss than with other people, and I suppose I must have felt that. I didn’t realize it, I suppose, till the last ten or fifteen years. In fact you have to write novels to begin to understand this. There’s a kind of backwardness in the novel…an attempt to get back to a lost world.   12) If a novelist isn’t in exile I suspect he’d be in trouble.   Fowles was an English...

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Seattle Wrote: Interview

Posted by on Mar 20, 2014 in amwriting, books, reading, sinfulfolk, writing | 0 comments

Interesting experience being interviewed for the book blog Seattle Wrote Here’s a nice takeaway quote:   “Ultimately, I like to think that I write about common human questions. The past influences the present, and the need to find connection with each other – those human needs are the same across the centuries,” he said. “It’s a question of, can you redeem yourself? Can you mend relationships, and make your life have meaning? Can you find meaning and value and in some sense, salvation – saving yourself and finding your true self?”   Referencing something he read that author Alice Walker said, about how the ghosts of the past actually tell her their stories, Ned “Always thought that was silly. But in this novel, I really had that feeling with Mear. I felt that I was telling Mear’s story, and not mine. That was a fascinating experience, too,” he said. “Her humanity and experience as a person is the most appealing. Being able to see things through her eyes, gives us richer empathy for each other and helps us not to objectify each other … The human experience shouldn’t be subjected to one gender or one perspective.”   Read more from the Interview Here » A literary update from Readers can find my books at these bookstores: To read more of my writing, you can visit Get literary updates by subscribing to my quarterly newsletter:  Please like &...

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REVIEW: Journey of the Bookseller (Thank You!)

Posted by on Mar 19, 2014 in amwriting, books, reading, sinfulfolk | 0 comments

Review re-printed from Journey of a Bookseller – The Book Fairie      In December of 1377, four children were burned to death in a house fire.   [Sinful Folk] was published in January, so you should be able to find a copy at your local bookstore now. There were two things that made me want to read this book:  It was set in medieval times and the main character is woman passing herself off as a man. The boys were dressed in their best clothes; the door to the house was tied shut from the outside.  Why were the boys there and who tied that knot?  Who set the fire?  The villagers are angry and want justice, so they decide to take the matter to their King to demand justice. Never mind that they can’t travel the land without permission and banner from the owner of the land.  Never mind that the bodies must be buried in a short period of time to comply with the law.  The roads are dangerous with bandits and slavers pouncing on anyone without protection.  It doesn’t help that the villagers are fighting amongst themselves and letting old grievances raise their ugly heads. She’s a former nun, one of the dead boys was her son, and she’s making the trip with them.  She’s plays at being mute and draws as little attention as possible.  She has a back story about a love lost.  She also has suspicions about who had the ability to tie that strange knot that held the children in.  She trusts no one and she still gets betrayed. I found this to be a fascinating tale.   There is subplot as well as the murder mystery.  You get the flavor of life back in the medieval times.  And there’s a bit of fact within the story.  It made a nice mix. The author’s words have a good flow and the story line will keep you reading.  If you like history and a good mystery, this is a book for you. A literary update from Readers can find my books at these bookstores: To read more of my writing, you can visit Get literary updates by subscribing to my quarterly newsletter:  Please like &...

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Reading at Auntie’s Bookstore – Sinful Folk

Posted by on Mar 18, 2014 in books, reading, writing | 0 comments

Reading – Signing – Come One, Come All ! Live anywhere near Spokane, Washington?   Auntie’s Bookstore in Spokane will be hosting an author event for author Ned Hayes’s new historical novel, Sinful Folk. A reading, Q&A and book signing will begin @ 7:00 p.m. More details here: 7 pm — March 20 — Author Reading, Signing and Q&A — Auntie’s Bookstore in Spokane Also check out the Northwest Writer’s Guild Panel discussion the previous night (3/19) with local Pacific Northwest authors. Come one, come all ! Please like &...

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